Monday, March 08, 2010

Home is Where You Get Your Start

I saw a note recently that said, "Home is Where You Get Your Start."

Those are very true words, in more ways than one. Home is where we learn to walk, speak and function. It's where we learn the ways of the world, at least the part of it we'll be working within for the first few years of our lives.

Home is where we learn the basic building blocks we'll need to eventually make a home of our own. What we learn at home, in those early years, impacts us through our entire lives. Children in lower socio-economic homes tend to have lower vocabularies, and research shows this negatively affects them throughout life. So, yes, home is where we get our start.

But it isn't where we finish. At least it doesn't have to be. We can take all the good of home, of those formative years, and add to it. Or we can become mired in whatever was negative about those years and hold it tightly so it's an anchor we never move beyond.

I've thought about this before with regard to racism. If you teach your child racism, they will never be able to move beyond your world where that's accepted. They'll remain in your world, which may be your desire anyway. It just seems cruel to handicap a child in this way. Obviously, racism is far more complex than this, but I've just thought about how limiting it is for a child to learn that behavior.

Home is where we get our start, and depending on who is in that home with us, and how they see the world, we can flourish or flounder. Even children in lower socio-economic situations, with parents who use fewer words each day than their more well-to-do counterparts, can grow beyond that.

But, it's much harder for those children, who grow up to be adults who are still working hard to achieve. I always wonder what they would be or do if they had a different start. What if they had gotten a start that didn't require them to work extra hard to function at a basic level? What if they had come from a home where the basic needs were taken care of and all they had to do was learn? What if?

Of course, that's always the difficulty -the what if. We are all a mix of nature and nurture and we can't ever separate one from the other. So that start we get at home is just that - a start - the beginning.

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